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How artists and collectors can increase adoption of art NFTs

In order for there to be NFTs for collectors to purchase, they first need to be created—but there are challenges holding back artists from fully engaging in the space.

How artists and collectors can increase adoption of art NFTs
[Rokas/AdobeStock]

NFTs are the newest technology dominating today’s conversation, and crypto art has caught the attention of artists, curators and enthusiasts alike. We’ve seen digital artist Pak’s recent drop become the largest sale by a living artist, and PFPs of Bored Apes selling for $400,000. We’ve seen it draw younger participants to the space, like seventeen-year-old artist and NFT curator Diana Sinclair. And we’ve seen the possibilities blockchain-based art can promise in income streams and future royalties. We’ve seen NFTs already shift the art world toward a more innovative and accessible future.

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But with the sudden spike in interest and usage, there’s still plenty of confusion about what NFTs actually are. Are they useful? Are they a fad? Are they for me? The longer NFTs remain a confusing or foreign topic to both artists and collectors, the more stagnation we’ll see in the adoption and acceleration of this new technological innovation that holds so much promise and opportunity. Here are a few of the challenges to adoption as I see them, and my suggestions for what the industry can do to overcome them.

WHAT’S HOLDING ARTISTS BACK

In order for there to be NFTs for collectors to purchase, they first need to be created—but there are challenges holding back artists from fully engaging in the space.

CHALLENGE 1: NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START

While artists may see crypto art as an intriguing idea, many are at a loss for where to begin, unsure of what non-fungible tokens are in the first place, how they can mint one, if they can really make money through the practice, and whether it’s the best path for their career. For example, in our recent report on “Making a Living as an Artist,” 35% of artists surveyed don’t know what an NFT is, yet said that they’d be interested in creating an NFT if they had access to resources to help them understand the technology.

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It may seem simple, but an increase in artist education is the first step. There is certainly a learning curve to getting set up on the blockchain, but getting more artists knowledgeable on the basics of the crypto ecosystem will accelerate adoption and get more high-quality NFTs out into the world. Resources for artists should also aim to help them understand where NFTs are situated within the greater context of the art market and how producing art NFTs can help further their career goals.

CHALLENGE 2: NOT KNOWING WHICH PLATFORM TO CHOOSE

Another challenge is the sheer number of platforms selling art NFTs. Some are open platforms that allow anyone to contribute, while others are more exclusive; some have more leverage and credibility in the NFT collector space; some offer gasless minting, but at the cost of discoverability. With so many options, it’s hard to know where to start or which platform will be most beneficial for an individual artist.

It may take time for the players committed to building the industry to show their staying power, but in the meantime, artists can look for platforms that are committed to fostering their career and the NFT space. We’ve worked to become a platform that’s open to artists, is highly curated, and has a strong collector base. Artists should look for platforms doing the same as the industry evolves.

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WHAT’S HOLDING COLLECTORS BACK

As NFTs continue to make headlines, many collectors are interested in getting involved but are hesitant due to the misconceptions they’ve heard, the technology’s learning curve, and general uncertainty about the space. Here are some of the challenges holding collectors back from fully embracing art NFTs and their potential solutions.

CHALLENGE 1: FUD

Any new technology that challenges people to think differently about entrenched industries often comes up against feelings of fear, uncertainty and doubt—or FUD. Many consumers are suspicious of NFTs simply because they don’t understand the technology behind them, only hear about scams, or think they are a passing fad. But crypto is already rooted and growing—the first half of 2021 saw $2.5 billion in NFT sales—and NFTs, while gaining media traction lately, have been around since 2014. But, FUD continues to undercut adoption.

The best way to combat FUD is by better demonstrating the practical value of crypto and NFTs in everyday life. In the art world, that means emphasizing functionalities that bring value to a collector, like provenance, proof of ownership and artist royalties enabled by NFTs. In the near future, we will also start seeing high-quality-mounted displays come to market so collectors can better appreciate digital art and art NFTs.

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CHALLENGE 2: MISINFORMATION

A major challenge for collectors is simply the vast amount of misinformation circulating in the ecosystem. There are many opinions out there about what NFTs are and how they function, yet we found 68% of artists haven’t considered or even know what art NFTs are, citing they don’t understand the technology and would need more educational resources to participate in the crypto art space. Collectors may be turned off immediately by what they assume NFTs are (and aren’t).

The industry helps collectors overcome the misinformation barrier by providing credible and reliable resources that demystify crypto and NFTs in simple, easy-to-consume ways. Brands, media outlets and others need to take this innovation seriously and help educate those interested in the space. As more collectors get involved, they will experience the value of NFTs directly, see how the tech works, and recognize how they can get involved with art NFTs.

FROM CHALLENGES TO OPPORTUNITIES

NFTs have the potential to change how artists create and sell their work, engage with their audience and create a community of collectors and fans. That potential will remain unrealized until we educate, welcome and grow the crypto art community as a whole.

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Empowering artists & collectors to embrace digital art as Curator of The Other Avatars and Saatchi Art Manager of Art Advisory and Curation.

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